What was the population of the Roman Empire?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    ""------Understanding these difficulties, there is little choice but to determine the population of the Roman Empire using various consensus estimates. The population of the world circa AD 1 has been considered to be between 200 and 300 million people. In that same period, the population of the early empire under Augustus has been placed at about 45 million. Using 300 million as the world benchmark, the population of the Empire under Augustus would've made up about 15% of the world's population. Of this 45 million people, Augustus declared within in his own census information that:

    * In 28 BC the citizen population was 4,063,000 (including both men and women)

    * In 8 BC - 4,233,000

    * In AD 14 - 4,937,000

    By contrast, in the census of 70 BC, prior to the major civil wars of the late Republic (and considerably more conquests in Gaul and the East), some have estimated the population of the 'Empire' at a more considerable 55 to 60 million people. This falls more in line with estimates at the height of imperial power in the mid 2nd century AD, and might be inflated considering the lack of the previously mentioned expansion. The census of 70 BC showed 910,000 men held citizenship, which is far short of the Augustan citizen numbers (roughly 4 million), but more than the overall numbers (roughly 45 million) just a century later. The large discrepancy would seem to account for the fact that Augustus probably counted more than even citizen men and related family members (including women). He may have included non citizen freemen, freedmen and slaves as well, but this we can never be certain of. A Claudian census in 47 AD places citizen population at just under 7 million people. This, despite its near unbelievable rate of growth from just 50 years prior, can be partially attested by the great vilification of Claudius for including Gauls and other provincials in the Senate as well increasing the citizen roles. In fact, citizen growth was more a measure of Romanization than it was of birth rate. By this time, Roman citizenship was experiencing its first major shift from something of Italian origin, that would continue to evolve over the next few centuries.

    At the height of Roman power in the mid 2nd century AD, conservative opinion is that the Empire was comprised of some 65 million people. Assuming that the world population was still roughly about 300 million people this would mean that the Roman population was approximately 21% of the world's total. However, less conservative estimates have added far more people living within the official borders of the Empire, perhaps as much as doubling the figure. With this in mind, the population of the Empire may have approached 130 million people or perhaps over 40% of the world's total! However, as these numbers for the ancient period are widely divergent and imprecise, it could be assumed that either number or any in between has the potential to be correct. Still the increase from 45 to 65 million in about a century is believable and can be credited to the conquests of Britannia and Dacia, and several annexations of client kingdoms dating from the time of Augustus. (mostly by Claudius)

    Breaking down the 65 million population estimate, some additional assumptions can be made:

    * 500,000 soldiers (legionaries totalling 150,000 and auxilia making up the rest)

    * Approximately 600 Senators made up the elite of the elite.

    * Perhaps up to 30,000 men filled the roles of Equestrians (knights), or the second tier of the aristocracy.

    * 10 to 30% or 6 million to 19 million people lived in the cities, leaving the vast majority of some 46 to 59 million people to live in the country as independent and mostly tenant farmers.

    * Rome itself was made up of over 1 million people and, though it would shrink remarkably after the fall of the west, no city would surpass that number until the great urban population booms of the industrial age, 1,500 years or more later.

    * The slave population of Rome approached 500,000 on its own, probably half of which were owned by the 600 men of the Senate. Additional estimates have suggested that of the total 65 million people, 2 to 10 million may have been slaves.

    After the plagues of the 160's to 170's AD, and the wars of Marcus Aurelius, the population of the empire fell from its previous high, likely down to about 40 million in total. By the beginning of the 4th century, and the reign of Constantine, civil wars and foreign incursions had taken their toll. The number had grown again, likely to somewhere around 55 million, but the rate of growth had obviously slowed considerably. By this time too, a major shift in imperial power was taking place from the west to the east. The population of Rome was in decline and Byzantium (or Constantinople) was on the rise. The west likely made up about 40% of the Empires total population with the remainder in the east. By the mid 6th century, wars, disease and emigration brought the population of Rome perhaps as low as 30 thousand to 100 thousand people; a far cry from its height just a few hundred years earlier. By contrast, in the same period, Constantinople may have numbered somewhere between 750,000 to 1 million people itself in the time of Justinian.""""








































    TOTAL: 22,000,000




    In the Principate, the five leading cities were ROME, ALEXANDRIA, ANTIOCH, EPHESUS, and CARTHAGE. In 100 A.D., Rome boasted a population of over 1,000,000 permanent residents; Alexandria was perhaps between 500,000 and 750,000. The cities of Antioch, Ephesus and Carthage had populations on the order of 350,000 to 500,000 residents. There were many more cities in the eastern provinces boasting large populations. In the province of Asia (western Anatolia), Ephesus (500,000) competed for title of “first city of Asia” with SMYRNA (250,000) and PERGAMUM (150,000). Middle sized cities in Italy, Africa, and the Roman East ranged between 50,000 and 100,000, perhaps twice the size of their counterparts in the northern provinces. Most cities in the Roman world numbered between 10,000 and 25,000 residents, although many citizens resided in the surrounding countryside (Latin, pagus; Greek ????) rather than in the civic center.

    In the fourth century, Rome declined steadily in population, and in 400 A.D. possibly counted between 500,000 and 750,000 residents. The collapse of the Western Empire in 395-476 saw Rome decline precipitiously to 75,000 to 100,000 residents by 500. The Gothic War (535-554) nearly ruined Rome which sank to the level of to an armed camp of 30,000 residents. CONSTANTINOPLE, dedicated as the New Rome in 330, grew from a population of 30,000, when she was still the city of Byzantium, to 300,000 by 400 A.D. By the age of Justinian (527-565), residents of Constaninople, “Queen of Cities,” might have totaled 1,000,000, but perhaps 500,000 to 750,000 is a more accurate estimate.


    Population (reckoned in millions of people) Region 400 650 1000 1200 1340 1500

    British Isles 1 0.5 2 2.8 5 3

    France & Lowlands 5 3.5 6 10 19 16

    Germany & Scandinavia 3.5 2 4 7 11.5 7.5

    Iberian Peninsula 4 3.5 7 8 9 8.3

    Italy 6 2.5 5 7.8 10 9

    Greece & Balkans 5 3 5 ---- 6 4.5

    Asia Minor 12 7 8 7 ---- ----

    Syria & Levant 5 3 2 3 ---- ----

    Egypt 6 3 1.5 2.5 4.5 ----

    North Africa 2.5 ---- 1 1.5 ---- ----

    Figures based on J. C. Russell, Late Ancient and Medieval Population (Philadelphia, 1958).

    Byzantine Empire: In 850, the imperial army (theme and tagmatic units) is estimated at 150,000 men; in 1025 the army was perhaps 150,000 men. Basil II (976-1025) possibly ruled over 18 million subjects: 10 million in Anatolia, 5 million in the Balkans and Greek homeland, 1 million in Constantinople, and possibly another 2 million in southern Italy and Syria. The imperial army perhaps mobilized for military service 3-4% of an adult males reckoned at 4.5 million. Defeats in 1071-1078 and Turkomen migrations reduced the population of Anatolia. By 1125, the emperor John II (1118-1143) possibly ruled over an empire of 10-12 million subjects or two-thirds of the number of subjects over whom Basil reigned one hundred years earlier.

    Western Europe: Figures for Western show remarkable growth from 900 A.D. on as northern Europeans cleared forests and perfected deep ploughing techniques. By the eleventh century the populations of Western exceeded those of the Mediterranean world and Near East for the first time in history.

    Crusader States: By 1140, the Crusaders occupied the most densely populated regions of the Levant, possibly dominating 1,625,000 residents. Crusader numbers can be sensed by the number of knights who could take field in 1140. The King of Jerusalem could field 675 knights from his vassals and additional 300 knights of the military monastic orders of the Templars and Hospitalars. The Count of Tripoli could field possibly 100 k

  • sarro
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Population Of Roman Empire

  • 4 years ago

    Roman Empire Population

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago


    What was the population of the Roman Empire?

    Source(s): population roman empire: https://trimurl.im/j73/what-was-the-population-of-...
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  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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    There are too many contradicting articles, published books, and estimates that are often biased for or against the greatness of the Roman Empire. German, Italian, or French scholars tend to overestimate the population, while British and Americans tend to underestimate. The estimate will also depend on the time of research and area due large extend of the Roman Empire. Author Israel Smith Clare put the estimate to 120 millions for the peak that was in the 2nd century AD. However, the estimate I had read from many sources put it to 80 millions, roughly matching the population of the Medieval Europe in the 1350. So if you agree on this number for the 150AD as the peak, then we can estimate back and forward. When Rome emerged as significant player in the Apennine peninsula, it was a small city of small political entity, Roman Republic. The population of the city of Rome was about 30,000 when the Gauls sacked the city in 390BC. The Republic was controlling only small territory and it could have hardly 1 million. Between that event and the fall of the Republic, the territory of the state increased rapidly, so its population. From 326BC and 146BC, Roman Republic had grew from small regional power to major player of the Ancient World. Its territory is alone expanded 120x in that time. The city of Rome grew as well as thousands of farmer flocked to the Rome for better livelihood. At the start of the Punic wars, the city had about 100,000 inhabitants, crossed 300,000 mark in the middle of the 2nd century BC and reached almost 1 million at the end of the Roma Republic. After the Punic Wars, the census of 129 BC counts 294,000 male citizens, and this number jumped to 500,000 in 84 BC after Social Wars. The population of the state grew as well. It probably reached 10 millions after the defeat of the Carthage and Corinth and increased rapidly after incorporating Greek states. The population of the Hellenic civilization was estimated to 11 millions of Greek speakers 3rd century BC and this was added to the Roman Republic. Thus population of the last years of the Roman Republic was well under 45 millions. During the transformation of the Roman Republic to Empire, the population was probably around 50-60 millions at the Age of Augustus. From that point, the population stabilized as the birthrate declined and reached the peak in the middle of the 2nd century AD. After the golden and silver ages of Rome ended, the state was devastated by two series plagues, the plague of Galen (around 180AD) and Cyprian (around 260AD). Both outbreaks had profound effect on the future history of Rome. Rome failed in the first one to keep a control of provinces north of Danube and Mesopotamia due lack of manpower, the second decimated agricultural society primarily in the Western Europe that never recovered to the population peaks of the Roman Empire for another 1000 years. For example population of Gaul shrunk by ½ well before collapse of the Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire probably had 22 millions in the late antiquity, about 1/3 less than it had in earlier era. The stabilization of the Empire under Diocletian and following emperors did not reverse population decline, only postpone it. The empire during division had approximately 56 millions (in the link below) and it further declined by the end of the 4th century. If there were 40,000 bureaucrats for every 1000 inhabitant under the late emperors, the population had shrunk to 40 millions when division of the Roman Empire on two halves in 395 became permanent. The West had declined rapidly in the 5th century and when Odoacer took control of the remains of the West (consisting Italy, Dalmatia and part of Gauls), the state had only 11 millions or so. The Justinian managed to decimate population of Italy in his Gothic Wars at next century to 3 millions. Even Eastern Roman Empire that transformed into Byzantine powerhouse was a shadow of the Roman glory. It its best years, the Eastern Roman/Byzantine empire had probably 18-24 millions of inhabitants. So at 476AD the combined population of both halves was somewhere around 30-35 millions using multiple sources to guess my estimate.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


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